The Madras High Court ordered Friday the Tamil Nadu government to develop an exigency plan to guarantee that the midday meal scheme at schools is not suspended in the case of future emergencies, such as the Covid-19 outbreak.
The direction came in a writ petition underlining the need to begin door-to-door delivery of cooked nutritious meals for school-going children due to the shutdown of schools forced by Covid-19. The petition emphasized the state’s obligation under the National Food Security Act, 2013, to provide nutritious meals to children. In response to the petition, the government informed the court that it would resume the midday meal scheme for 9th and 10th standard students from September 1, 2021.
In subsequent hearings, the government informed the court that it would reinstate the scheme for the remaining grades when their physical classes would resume on November 1, 2021. Consequently, the petitioner requested the court to direct the government not to suspend the midday meal program under any circumstances in the future. Thus, the court ordered the government to prepare a plan of action to ensure that vulnerable children and young adults do not go hungry in the event of any natural calamity.
Moreover, the bench appreciated the government’s efforts to resume the midday meal scheme for school-going children in rural areas at a time when the lockdown had not been completely lifted. The court has sought a status report on the exigency plan in the next hearing.